Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor: I read this twice because I loved it so much and honestly it is difficult to stop myself from rereading it again. This novel becomes richer the more you read it, I think. (good interview with McGregor here and here)
Wallcreeper by Nell Zink: this book constantly surprised me and also made me laugh out loud and contains some of my favorite sex scenes (which says a lot because generally I don’t find sex scenes effective or interesting or worthwhile in novels).
Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson: it is perhaps difficult for me to read Shirley Jackson objectively because I love her so much. But I loved this book, especially the very creepy woods section in part 3. I went this summer to visit Jackson’s North Bennington home with my writer friend Ryan Bloom. If you live anywhere near Vermont, this Shirley Jackson walking tour is highly recommended.
The Wine-Dark Sea by Robert Aickman: Aickman is my newest short story love and I want to read everything he wrote at some point in my life, which would be a possible goal if humans stopped writing and publishing such tempting books.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi: the narrator of the second section is one of my favorite narrators ever–bitingly funny and angry and tragic and grasping for a way to have control/power.
Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswold: gripping narrative non-fiction that gets at the complexity of fracking in rural America. After reading this, I think (and hope) it would be difficult and maybe even impossible to look at fracking as an ethical economic opportunity.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy: more gripping narrative non-fiction. This book broke my heart from its very opening, where on the dedication page it dedicates itself to 12 mostly young adults who overdosed. Both this and Amity and Prosperity hurt to read but are still very much worthwhile books.
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark: my favorite AI book. Tegmark is an MIT physicist who writes very clearly and fairly and makes excellent funny graphics to explain his points. I honestly never realized physics was so amazing until I read this….
Asymmetry by Lisa Hallidy: I need to end this list at some point but I can’t end it before mentioning this book. I loved how the first section was written–mainly dialogue, it’s about a complex relationship, and what I especially loved was that the reader isn’t told or instructed about whether the relationship is good or bad. (I think the relationship was both, like any relationship I suppose). The book grapples with some big questions, like is it possible to write from a point of view that isn’t ours.
I’ve begun to assemble my vacation reading list, which has about 15 books on it, which may present some difficulties because my upcoming vacation is only 2 weeks long. TOO MANY GOOD BOOKS EXIST IN THE WORLD!!! This is a good problem to have however.